Right now I’m on a train with my friend Hillevi, heading for Copenhagen. Tomorrow we will go through Germany and the Netherlands and finally arrive in the United Kingdom on Sunday morning. The reason we’re going there is to visit the Jesus Army, a church that has inspired me more than any other church. Why is that? Here are seven reasons:
1. It’s Jesus’ Army
The Jesus Army, or Jesus Fellowship Church as it is formally known, was birthed in a charismatic movement of the 1970’s called – you guessed it – the Jesus movement. And this Jesus focus isn’t just rhetoric or branding – these people are really passionate about Jesus and really try to live like He did (1 Jn 2:6). Like Anabaptists, they have Christ-centred theology and Christ-centred lives. That’s always something you want to see in a church.
2. They practice community of goods
While having a focus on Jesus is something most churches claim to have, community of goods is really rare. Even though it is clearly described as a Biblical way of following Jesus in Acts 2:44-45, most Christians haven’t even tried it. Having everything is common, is uncommon. The Jesus Army however has had their New Creation Christian Communities for around 40 years, and today hundreds of people pool their money and resources so that nobody lives in poverty and nobody in luxury.
3. They have ethical, social businesses
To finance the community and the charities of the church, these Jesus people run businesses like Goodness Foods and Good Timber which are very good, ethical and sustainable. Everybody get the same wage, all the profits go to charity and many of the businesses focus on creation care through organic products, renewable energy etc. It’s really amazing what the Holy Spirit can do in the commercial world.
4. They are charismatic
The Jesus Army is a movement born in an outpouring of the Holy Spirit among some British hippies, and for all of its existance it has been a tongue-speaking, prophetic and miracle-experiencing movement. People have been healed, delivered and saved through what the Spirit has been doing. The Jesus Army is a perfect example of a charismactivist chuch, that combines signs and wonders with social justice and economic equality.
5. They are evangelistic
“Jesus Army” was a name taken specifically for outreach. The church produces a street paper simply called “Street Paper” that church members hand out when they evangelize. Through healing on the streets, social Jesus Centres, London Jesus Day and a strong internet presence, the Jesus Army wants to reach out with the Gospel about what amazing life Jesus gives to everyone who do not yet know Him.
6. They are creative
There are so many Jesus hippie songs to learn, so many paintings and artworks in the community houses about the Jesus movement and so many books and writings produced by the Jesus people, it takes many years to go through it all. The Jesus Army is colourful, playful and passionate about God, and there is much freedom to express this in various ways.
7. They are hospitable
If you get as excited as me about this wonderful church, please visit them! They have received me and my friends with so much love, care and hospitality, and to stay in one of their community houses is just an incredibly relaxing and refreshing experience. As I write this, I’m just even more eager to sit down in one of their couches with a nice cup of English tea, listen to Jesus stories, worship the Lord and simply feel at home. Thank God for the Jesus Army!